Results tagged ‘ Andre Ethier ’

No decision for Pettitte as Dodgers rally late

For his sixth straight start, Andy Pettitte was scored upon in the first inning, one of those “uh-oh” moments for Yankees fans. That turned out a minor blemish for the lefthander in what proved a solid outing Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

Pettitte was not able to get his record (7-8) back to .500 because the score was 2-2 when he was lifted for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. Andy allowed eight hits but did not walk a batter and struck out three in seven innings. As is often the case with starting pitchers, the early innings can post problems as they search for a rhythm.

Cuban phenom Yasiel Puig jolted Pettitte with one out in the first inning with a booming double to center field. He crossed to third base on a fly ball to right field and scored on a two-out single through the middle by Hanley Ramirez, one of the hottest hitters in the majors (.383).

Lyle Overbay got the run back leading off the second inning with a home run off Zack Greinke, the third jack in 24 career at-bats against the righthander. Juan Uribe matched that, however, with his sixth home run, a 441-foot bomb into the second deck in left field off a hanging 0-2 curve by Pettitte in the bottom half.

Ichiro Suzuki saved Pettitte a run in the third with a tracer’s bullet of a throw home that nailed Ramirez trying to score from second base with two out on a single to right by A.J. Ellis. Catcher Chris Stewart completed the play with a quick tag on Ramirez’s left thigh before his foot touched the plate. That was the first of five straight scoreless innings for Pettitte, who gave his teammates a chance to stay in the game.

The Yankees drew even in the fourth on another RBI by Overbay. A wild pitch by Greinke that allowed Alfonso Soriano, who led off the inning with a double down the left field line, to move up to third base helped set up the run. With the infield back, all Overbay had to do was make contact, which he did with a grounder to the left side as Soriano crossed the plate.

Pettitte’s work turned out to be most encouraging sign for the Yankees, who had only one hit after Soriano’s double. Ichiro doubled to left with one out in the seventh, but Greinke struck out Jayson Nix and retired Stewart on a ground ball.

It was a bullpen game after that, and the Dodgers won it, 3-2, in the bottom of the ninth on a two-out single by Mark Ellis off Shawn Kelley (3-1). It scored Andre Ethier, who had singled with one down and got a big stolen base two pitches before Ellis dropped a single into left-center. Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen (4-3) pitched a perfect inning apiece. David Robertson did the same for the Yankees in the eighth before Kelley took over in the ninth.

Aware that the Yankees had no left-handed bat on the bench, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly used his hard-throwing righthanders out of the pen. With five straight games on National League soil and no designated hitter in play, that situation hurts the Yankees. There is a chance Curtis Granderson could rejoin the Yankees at the end of the week when they move on to San Diego, which will surely help. Keep your fingers crossed.

Joe D’s feat endures for 70 years

The 30-game hitting streak earlier this season by the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier was the latest reminder of the greatness of Joe DiMaggio’s record 56-gamer. Ethier got a hit every day for a month and still was only two games past the halfway point of the Clipper’s achievement, which may be closest thing to an unbreakable record in baseball.

Sunday marked the 70th anniversary of the beginning of Joe D’s streak. It started innocently with a 1-for-4 game May 15, 1941 against the White Sox in a 13-1 loss before in front of a crowd of only 9,040 on a Thursday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. DiMaggio’s hit off Eddie Smith, who went the distance for the victory, was a single. Who knew that Jolton’ Joe would continue to hit on a daily basis for two months?

During the streak that lasted through July 16 and ended July 17 at Cleveland, DiMaggio batted .408 with 91 hits, 56 singles, 16 doubles, 4 triples, 15 home runs, 55 runs batted in and 56 runs in 223 at-bats. He drew 21 walks and struck out merely five times in that stretch during which the Yankees went 41-13 with two ties. I found another span of his during that 1941 season where DiMaggio went 41 consecutive games without striking out, which is almost as impressive. He struck out only 13 times all season in 541 at-bats.

Mixed bag for Yanks

ANAHEIM, Calif.

There were mixed reviews for the Yankees in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Angel Stadium, a 3-1 National League victory.

Joe Girardi became the first American League manager to lose an All-Star Game since the Indians’ Mike Hargrove 14 years ago at Philadelphia. If you don’t think 1996 was a long time ago, consider that only six players on the rosters that year are still active – three from each league – Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez and Ivan Rodriguez from the AL and Chipper Jones, Mark Grudzielanek and Jason Kendall from the NL.

Girardi did a good job getting players into the game. All the position players except for A-Rod did time. Girardi left himself short in the ninth, however, and did not have anyone to pinch run for David Ortiz after he opened the inning with a single. A-Rod was available, but Girardi said he needed him either to pinch run for hamstring-aching Adrian Beltre if he reached base or to be the designated hitter had the game gone into extras.

Beltre did not reach base and struck out. Blue Jays catcher John Buck dumped a flare to right in front of the Cubs’ Marlon Byrd, but he fired a blazer to Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal covering second to force the plodding Ortiz and essentially kill the rally. So Alex Rodriguez never got to swing the bat.

Phil Hughes was hung with the losing decision, the first Yankees pitcher to lose an All-Star Game since Tommy John in 1980 at Dodger Stadium. Hughes came on in the seventh and got the first out before yielding singles to Reds third baseman Scott Rolen and Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday. Rolen’s reputation for savvy base running was evident as he challenged Angels center fielder Torii Hunter and got to third.

Girardi pulled Hughes at that point for White Sox lefthander Matt Thornton, who got righty-swinging Chris Young of the Diamondbacks on a foul pop. Byrd worked out a walk in an eight-pitch at-bat to fill the bases before lefty-swinging catcher Brian McCann cleared them with a double, which earned him the game’s Most Valuable Player Award.

A wild throw in the fifth inning by Dodgers pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo had given Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano the opportunity to drive in what proved to be the only AL run with a sacrifice fly. A base-running blunder by Twins catcher Joe Mauer, thrown out at third base trying to advance on a grounder to Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, spoiled the AL’s chance for another run that inning.

Derek Jeter reached base twice in his three at-bats with a walk and a single. Pettitte pitched the third and looked sharp striking out the Dodgers’ Andre Ethier and the Brewers’ Corey Hart before Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina reached the lefthander for a single. Pettitte ended the inning by retiring Ramirez on a fielder’s choice. Nick Swisher batted as a pinch hitter in the seventh and struck out on a nasty curveball by the Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright. CC Sabathia was not eligible for duty because he pitched Sunday.

Mo is clutch; oh, really?

Not that he needed any further verification of his status as a player who can be counted on when a game is on the line, Mariano Rivera was the June winner of the 2010 Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Month Award. The only question is: why did it take four years for the Yankees closer to win the monthly award presented by Pepsi?

Mo’s credentials were impeccable last month. He was 2-0 with seven saves in 11 appearances covering 13 innings in which the righthander allowed only four hits with 16 strikeouts. Rivera retired 24 consecutive batters from June 3-23. Twice in a five-day stretch he pitched two innings to preserve victories in Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Although he had never won the monthly award, Rivera was a finalist for the MLB Clutch Performer of the Year in 2009 but lost out to Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier. At the conclusion of the 2010 regular season, fans will have the opportunity to vote on the Clutch Performer of the Year from among six finalists selected by a special MLB.com editorial panel.

The Yankees have dominated this competition since its 2007 inception, with eight winners. Rivera joins current teammates Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez and former teammates Melky Cabrera, Jason Giambi, Hideki Matsui, Mike Mussina and Chien-Ming Wang. Only the Cubs and White Sox have had as many as two winners.

Andy not handy

Dodgers manager Joe Torre must have been stunned to see Andy Pettitte throw the ball all over the infield in the third inning Sunday night.

The ESPN Sunday Night Baseball crew of Joe Morgan, Orel Hershiser and Jon Miller rattled on about the Yankees showing inexperience dealing with the bunting game that is more prevalent in the National League, which was a lot of nonsense. The Yankees only happen to have beaten NL competition more than any team in World Series history.

Besides, Sunday night’s finale of the series at Dodger Stadium was the Yankees’ 18th and last inter-league game of the year and the 12th consecutive game against an NL club. It is not as if they haven’t seen a pitcher bunt before.

You can be sure Torre knows better. His relationship with Pettitte was cemented in Game 5 of the 1996 World Series at Atlanta when the lefthander pitched 8 1/3 innings of a 1-0 victory over the Braves that gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in games heading back to Yankee Stadium where they would win Game 6 and clinch the Series. Prior to that performance, Torre had viewed Pettitte somewhat skeptically telling friends he thought the pitcher was “soft.”

Baseball people of Torre’s generation don’t know what to make of a player like Pettitte who has deep religious convictions. Such players are often labeled “God squanders” and have their competitive grit questioned. Torre might have viewed Pettitte in that light at one time, but not after Game 5 in ’96. Not ever again. In fact, when the Yankees toyed with the idea of trading Pettitte to Philadelphia during the 1999 season, Torre campaigned hard with the front office to keep Pettitte in pinstripes.

Go back to that Game 5 in Atlanta, and one of the critical innings was the bottom of the sixth in which Pettitte’s defensive ability helped him snuff out a rally. Clinging to a one-run lead, Pettitte gave up singles to opposing pitcher John Smoltz and Marquis Grissom with none out. Mark Lemke attempted to sacrifice the runners over, but Pettitte pounded on the bunt and quickly threw to Charlie Hayes at third base to cut down Smoltz, the lead runner. Pettitte then handled a shot to the box by Chipper Jones and turned to second to start an inning-ending double play.

So you can imagine what might have been going through Torre’s mind Sunday night watching Pettitte commit two throwing errors on bunt fielding plays in the third. Reed Johnson was on second base after a leadoff double when Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw bunted in front of the plate. Pettitte tried for the lead runner at third, but Alex Rodriguez, who had charged for the bunt, was back pedaling to the bag and could not lunge for the throw that was wide to his left and ended up down the left field line, allowing Reed to score.

Rafael Furcal then bunted for a hit and got one. A third consecutive bunt came from Ronnie Belliard. Pettitte fielded the ball, but his throw to first on the sacrifice was into the runner and eluded second baseman Robinson Cano, who originally was charged with an error which the official score correctly amended later by assigning it to Pettitte. A run scored on that play, and Furcal was able to get to third from where he scored on a sacrifice fly by Andre Ethier.

A surprisingly sloppy inning by one of Joe Torre’s favorite players turned his reunion weekend with the Yankees in the Dodgers’ favor temporarily. The Yankees’ four-run uprising in the ninth against Jonathan Broxton, in a non-save situation, featured major contributions by Curtis Granderson, Chad Huffman and Colin Curtis, three Yankees never managed by Torre.

Huffman drove in two runs and Curtis one. A big mistake was by James Loney, the Dodgers first baseman who lost precious time stepping on the bag on Curtis’ grounder and was late throwing home as Granderson scored the tying run. Can’t these NL players handle balls in the infield?